Laura Graves & Verdades Post Highest World Cup Score in North America in Winning Global Freestyle
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 27, 2017–Laura Graves rode Verdades in their first freestyle since placing fourth at last summer’s Olympics to post the highest musical performance score in North America so far in winning the Adequan Global Dressage Festival World Cup Friday night under lights.
Laura and the 15-year-old KWPN gelding scored 80.728 per cent in the start of her campaign to compete at the World Cup Final in Omaha Mar. 27-April 2 that, if successful, would be the second time in the only annual global championship.
“It certainly feels good to start out at 80 per cent,” said Laura of Geneva, Florida who has now posted three of the six 80 per cent scores logged in the six years of Global and its annual winter lineup of seven CDIs. “That’s been our goal.”
“This horse has a heart of gold, and he loves to come out here,” she said of Verdades that won the Grand Prix Thursday in the first competition since the Olympics last August. “There is nothing that I can really take credit for. I’d like to say that he was born this way and maybe I’ve nurtured it or not taken it out of him, but he’s just a magical character.”
Their score was the highest so far in the 2016-17 North American League which gets two places among the 18 final starting spots but with optimism that a third start will be available to give a boost to the first-time World Cup venue in America’s heartland.
The second best result was 78.425 per cent for Steffen Peters of San Diego, California on Rosamunde at the inaugural Las Vegas World Cup qualifier the first week of January. Under the rules for North America–one of four leagues in the world–the average of the best two scores count toward qualifying.
Laura and Verdades as well her Rio Olympic bronze medal team mate Steffen on Rosamunde will compete at Global’s CDI5* Feb. 8-12 and the World Cup event Feb. 22-26.
Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén on Paridon Magi placed second 77.517 per cent to earn 17 points and boost her Western European League total to 34 points and ninth place on the standings. But that is unlikely to be enough to qualify for a start in Omaha with three more events scheduled for Europe while she is competing for her seventh winter in Florida.
Arlene “Tuny” Page, a Wellington hometown fan favorite, rode Woodstock into third place.
Tuny rode a new freestyle for the first time on Woodstock, retiring a musical score she had ridden to for 14 years including her 2006 World Cup Final performance on Wild One in Amsterdam.
Midway through the night time competition a mild chill (by Florida standards) moved in that dropped the temperature by several degrees to about 60F/15C but it was not enough to keep down attendance that was the highest ever at about 750 for the VIP pavilion.